In the last 24 hours, the June 2015 quota for Tier 2 (General) Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) has been met for the very first time since the RCoS quota came into force in April 2011. An RCoS is required for skilled workers applying to work in the UK from abroad under Tier 2 (General) other than those considered to be high-earners (i.e. with a salary of £155,300 or above). RCoS are not currently required for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visas.
As a result of the quota being exceeded, a number of sponsors have had requests for RCoS refused and may need to re-apply for an allocation via the July 2015 panel.
The current annual RCoS quota is set at 20,700 for the period 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016. The available allocation for April was set at 2,550 and for each subsequent month until April 2016 the quota is set at 1,650. The system does have a facility to roll over any surplus RCoS. However, due to the spike in RCoS allocation requests this month and the high number of RCoS that have been refused as a result, we anticipate that demand for RCoS over next few months will remain high and repeatedly outstrip supply.
Applications for RCoS are ranked with preference being given to Shortage Occupation/PhD level roles and Croatian national applicants. All other requests are ranked by salary, with higher paying roles being allocated first. We understand from the UKVI that all requests for an RCoS with a salary of less than £46,000 were refused this month. This situation will put many sponsors in a very difficult position as increasing the salary for a restricted Tier 2 (General) role in an attempt to obtain an RCoS through the July panel will require the sponsor to first re-advertise the role for 28 days at the higher salary.
The Conservative party manifesto included a commitment to maintain the RCoS cap at 20,700 during the next parliament, so it is unlikely that we will see an increase in the quota in the short term.
For further information and advice, particularly if you have received an RCoS refusal this month, please contact a member of the UK Business Immigration team.